Perhaps the worst thing that could happen to the New York Yankees right now is that they actually make this year’s playoffs. It’s still a long-shot, with the Yanks some five games back and trailing three teams. But given their torrid pace of late, anything is possible. That may be particularly true if Alex Rodriguez plays like the Alex Rodriguez of old, long before he sat out this entire season recovering from hip surgery. He’s looked good so far, way better than the A-Rod that limped his way through last year’s playoff exit, barely able to hit the ball much less run the bases. This is all assuming A-Rod is allowed to play the rest of the season, which feels like a safe bet given his appeal from a 211 game suspension for his use of performance enhancing drugs.
One of the first things I learned in a classroom management course was when a kid blatantly breaks the rules, never ask him or her why they did it. You’re not going to like the answer, and the reality is, most kids don’t know why threw a watermelon out a school window. At that age, impulse far overwhelms reasoned action. So as an educator, forget why, and simply deal with the punishment.
Last night I sat through a full nine innings of Single-A minor league baseball. Once the sugar high of Cracker Jacks and funnel cake wears off, it can get pretty old, if you plan on actually watching the game. There’s missed balls, botched plays, and everything else that reminds you why they call it the minor league instead of, say, the majors. But on a positive note, three hours and four pretzels later, I can definitively say that not everyone in professional baseball takes drugs. That’s probably news after this week, when major league baseball suspended Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun for the rest of the year without pay for his involvement with the Miami clinic Biogenesis, who apparently gave him enough supply to fill a Duane Reade. And I’m talking about one of the big ones down in the city, where they sell groceries and lawn furniture.
If 40 is the new 30, then American sprinter Tyson Gay has a long decade ahead of him. Because at 30, he’s suddenly looking quite old, especially compared to the emergent track stars Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake of Jamaica, who at 26 and 23 make Gay look like at parent at a Taylor Swift show. Gay has certainly aged years in the past several days, when it was revealed that he tested positive for a banned performance enhancing substance. That has forced him to withdraw from next month’s world championships in Moscow, where he would have but faint hopes of topping a field that has since passed him by.
I’ll admit something I probably shouldn’t. I haven’t watched a baseball game start to finish all season. That won’t change until I actually go to a Mets game in a couple of weeks, and then it’s because I don’t really have a choice. Although I could just stand in the Shake Shack line for a few innings.
A few years ago, the athletic shoe company Adidas had this ad slogan that went, “Impossible is nothing.” It always seemed to be worn by people who I doubt adhered to that ethic, but certainly held their favorite athletes to that standard. More to the point, the slogan itself doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. For example, I have stared at a 10 foot basketball hoop since I was about five, all with the hope that I might someday grab it on the way down from a windmill dunk. That never happened. The closest I ever got was when we played on seven foot rims at the elementary school.
The main difference between yesterday and today for Aaron Hernandez is that yesterday he spent the night in his own house in Attleboro, Mass, not far from the stadium where he plays tight end for the New England Patriots. And today, he’s in the custody of the Massachusetts State Police, who arrested him in his home this morning in relation to the murder of Oden Lloyd, a 27 year-old semi-professional football player and acquaintance of Hernandez. So quite a difference a day makes.
I suppose it’s low hanging fruit to write a column criticizing NBA refs. That’s like criticizing the IRS or the DMV. Calling an NBA game correctly is as easy as catching a Cheetah with a bicycle; it’s just not possible. Not with the unbridled speed and athleticism— all inconceivable when the game was created. Today’s professional basketball is lightning fast, fiercely physical, and hard to assess in slow motion, much less full speed. So, just getting most calls right is a herculean task. It’s like keeping most of the kindergarten class quiet during story time.
In the period of the next several days, the history of basketball may or may not be rewritten. At stake is far more than the next NBA Title, which will go to either the San Antonio Spurs or the Miami Heat. The Spurs hold a 2-1 game lead in the best of seven series and could potentially defeat the favored Heat team before ever having to return to Miami for Games 6 and 7. Or, Miami could rebound and overwhelm the Spurs with superior talent and up-tempo play, taking their second consecutive title and laying the groundwork as the league’s most current dynasty. With that comes the historical directive of one superstar LeBron James, the most dominant player in the league.
Today’s word of the day on Sesame Street was champion. I know because I watched it with my three year old Elliot. They talked about what it means to be a champion, at least in the context of life sized muppets and their human friends. As a guest on the show, LA Clippers forward Blake Griffin contested a muppet chicken in a rooster calling contest. And, spoiler alert, Blake won. So he was the champion.